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Open your Bible to Romans chapter 11, if you will.  Romans chapter 11, and we've been looking at verses 11 through 24 as a unit in this wonderful chapter, dealing with the subject, “Has God Cancelled His Promise to Israel”?  By way of an opening introduction, let me just say that we know that God is a God of great faithfulness.  In fact, Jeremiah put it as simply as it could be put when he said, "Great is Thy faithfulness."  And Peter echoed the same sentiment when he said, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise."  In other words, God is faithful to His Word, we know that to be the case, we bank our life on that. We bank our eternity on that.  We bank everything on that, that God is a faithful God, that He keeps His Word and He keeps His promise unwaveringly.

And I really believe there is no better proof of the faithfulness of God than the redemptive history of Israel. No single thing more demonstrates God's faithfulness to His promise than His unfailing love for the nation Israel, a nation which in fact did everything to negate those promises, everything to violate that love.  And still God is true to His promise and true to His love, unchangingly and unwaveringly.  In spite of their sin, in spite of their rejection, in spite of their unbelief, there is still a place for the nation Israel in the plan of God.  That is the reality of Romans chapters 9, 10 and 11.  That is the message that Paul is communicating in this great, great section of the epistle.  And he brings it into this epistle, which is an epistle on salvation, to demonstrate how faithful God is to His promise.  If He promises you salvation, believe me, He will grant it.  If He promises you redemption, He will give it.  And Israel is a classic illustration.

Some might think that because Israel has as a nation currently rejected Jesus Christ and His gospel of salvation by grace through faith that they are forever set aside and that God will have nothing more to do with them.  But not so.  For God has promised to save Israel, He has promised to bring Israel to blessing and He will keep His promise.  In chapters 9 and 10 Paul said, "Yes, Israel is set aside.”  Yes.  And they're set aside by the sovereign plan of God, that's chapter 9, "and because of their unbelief,” that's chapter 10.  Yes they are set aside.  Yes they are not at this particular point the nation of blessing, the people who are His witnessing people in the world, the people who are the recipient of His truth and the propagators of His message.  Yes they are set aside.  But chapter 9 told us that's according to the plan of God.  And chapter 10, it's because of their unbelief.

Now in coming to chapter 11, Paul sums up his thought by saying their setting aside is only partial — that is, not all of them have been set aside as verses 1 to 10 of this chapter showed us.  Secondly, it is passing.  It is not permanent.  Their setting aside is only temporary.  And we pick that thought up in verse 11.  Their setting aside is only temporary.  And the temporary setting aside of Israel teaches three great things.  First of all, it has a definite purpose, verses 11 to 15.  It has a definite purpose.  Israel's temporary setting aside is for a very special purpose.  Notice it, and I'll remind you of it as we read briefly through it.  "I say then, have they stumbled,” that is stumbled in unbelief at the point of Jesus Christ, stumbled in rejecting the gospel, “that they should fall”?  That is permanently and forever and irretrievably and irrecoverably?  In stumbling over Christ who was to them a stumbling stone, have they fallen forever?  God forbid.  No.  Their fall is not a forever fall.  It is not a permanent fall.  It is but a temporary one.

And its purpose?  "That through their fall," and here we talk about their sin, their sin of unbelief and rejection, "through their fall salvation is come to the Gentiles."  And that's the first purpose in the temporary setting aside of Israel.  It brought the Gentiles in to become the people of blessing, to become the people of witness.  You say, "Well if the Jews hadn't fallen would we never have gotten the gospel?"  Well of course we would have.  If they hadn't fallen, they would have brought us the gospel, they would have been the people of the message.  They would have lived out the witness that God wanted them to live.  But we never would have become that people in the unique way that they were.  And so because Israel is set aside we not only receive the gospel, but we have been made the new people of the ministry, the new people of witness, the new people of testimony, the new channel of blessing to reach the world.

And so, not only have we received salvation but we have received the privileged place of ministry, standing in the place vacated by unbelieving Israel.  So it is not that Gentiles never would have been redeemed if Israel had believed, it is that we never would have become the people that we've become uniquely called by God to reach the world in their place.  And so the first thing we see here is that the purpose was Gentile blessedness, Gentile salvation.

And the second purpose, "To provoke them to jealousy."  The temporary setting aside of Israel brought Gentile blessing and Jewish jealousy.  And when the Gentiles became the people of blessing, it was to provoke the Jews to jealousy so that they would say, "How is it that we are the punished?  How is it that we are the chastened?  How is it that we are the abused?"  And that's how it's been through their history since the rejection of Christ, hasn't it?  From the 70 A.D. desolation of Jerusalem by the Romans right up until modern times, they have been a people under tremendous persecution and pressure through all these centuries.  And the church of Jesus Christ has been the blessed and Israel has been the chastened.  And it is to provoke them to jealousy that they might be drawn back to God and back to Christ to the roots of blessing.

So, we might say that what Paul is articulating here is that Gentile blessing is to provoke Jewish salvation, right?  So that even God's purpose in setting them aside was to redeem them back.  They couldn't be reached when they were the people of blessing, maybe they can be reached when they become jealous of the people who become the people of blessing.  They were not responsive to God when He came and said salvation is of the Jews, when He said, "I am come not but for the lost sheep of the house of Israel." They wouldn't accept a direct approach from God.  And so God now gives them an indirect approach, pouring out blessing on the church, the redeemed church to provoke that people to jealousy.

And the third purpose is world blessing, verse 12.  "If the fall of them has become the riches of the world," that is if their fall into sin, rejection of Christ, has made all of us rich, “if the diminishing of them has become the riches of the Gentiles,” that again refers to the same thing, their sin has made us rich by making us the people of blessing, "how much more will their fullness bless us?"  And what will happen when Israel comes to faith in Christ?  What will that usher in?  The millennial kingdom, the glories of the kingdom promised in Scripture.

So we see then that the setting aside of Israel is temporary in order to bring about Gentile blessing, to provoke Jewish jealousy so that they will long for the blessing.  And in receiving that blessing bring about world blessing through the coming of the kingdom.  And we know that the Bible tells us that in Israel's salvation will come blessing to the world.  And so we looked at those particular details.

Paul then says in verse 13, 14 and 15 that this is the direction of his ministry.  He says, "I speak to you Gentiles, yes, because I am the apostle of the Gentiles and I magnify that office.” I don't diminish that office, I don't lessen that office, I am the Apostle to the Gentiles and I am honored to be such, but my real purpose is in seeing Gentiles come to Christ in order to provoke to jealousy them who are my flesh that some of them might be saved.  See what he's saying?

"My heart's desire and prayer is for Israel that they may be saved." He said that at the beginning of chapter 9, the beginning of chapter 10.  And so he says I'm happy to be the apostle to the Gentiles and I'm happy to see Gentiles embrace the faith but my greater goal is that in Gentiles' salvation there will come Jewish jealousy and some of them might be saved who are of my own flesh.  And then in verse 15 he says, "For if the casting away of them is the reconciling of the world, what will the receiving of them be but life from the dead."  That is the resurrection of the whole world into millennial glory.  The deliverance of suffering creation, as he talked about in Romans 8 where the creation waits for the manifestation of the sons of God, where it longs for the great reversal of the curse that comes in millennial glory.

So Paul says, I minister with this purpose in mind, that the setting aside of Israel is temporary, brings about Gentile salvation, provokes Jewish jealousy and will lead ultimately, when the Jews come back, to the place of blessing to world blessing in the millennial Kingdom.  So it has a definite purpose.  The setting aside of Israel has a definite purpose.

Secondly, and this is where we want to pick it up, it has a definite premonition, it has a definite premonition.  The word means warning, the word means “warning.”  And I want you to follow closely as we go through this in a brief time.  It has a very severe warning attached to it and that warning is to us Gentiles.  And it is a warning regarding pride.

Let me tell you something, people, there has been a danger throughout human history of anti-Semitism and it has found its way into the church. Believe me it has.  It is the underlying attitude that has spawned the British Israelite cult, of which perhaps the leading proponent would be the Worldwide Church of God with Herbert W. Armstrong, where they teach that the Anglo Saxon race are the lost ten tribes of Israel and all God's blessings are for us and the Jew is an outcast person, to be despised.  They don't say that up front, that's underlying their theology.  That's the roots of anti-Semitic British Israelism.

And that is a good illustration of how we need to be warned about the fact that it might be easy for Gentiles to look down on Jews because they rejected the Messiah, because they crucified the Savior, because they have turned their back on Him through all these years. And so we are warned, beginning in verse 16, against that kind of attitude.  And it is a marvelously insightful warning that will speak clearly to us as we notice it.

Follow verse 16 to begin with, and Paul's logic here is unarguable.  "For if the first fruit be holy, the lump is also holy and if the root be holy, so are the branches."  Now let's just take the first little analogy he gives.  If the first fruit be holy, the lump is also holy.  Now this comes from Numbers chapter 15, back in the Pentateuch, verses 17 to 21.  And I'll just read you a portion of that.  "Of the first fruits of your dough.” D-o-u-g-h, referring to that which they would use to make bread. “Of the first fruits of your dough you shall give to the Lord an heave offering in your generation."  In other words, the objective was that each time dough was prepared for baking bread among the Jewish people, a little piece of that dough was pulled off the larger portion and that little piece of dough was to be given to the Lord, which is to say it was taken to the temple or it was given to the priest.  And it became sustenance for the priest.  But it was an offering given to the Lord.  It was a first fruits. You pulled off a little and you gave it to the Lord.  God was always teaching them how that everything really belonged to Him.  Everything really was consecrated to Him.  Everything was set apart to Him.  And when they took off a little piece of that larger lump and gave it to the priest, it was a symbolic way of saying, "Yes, I offer all of this to the Lord.  I want this all to be set apart unto Him. I want it all to be consecrated to Him and this symbolizes that desire."  All the dough then was dedicated in the act of giving a small portion.  It was a way of saying, "Thank You, I realize this is Your provision, all of it.  I offer it back to You in the sense that as it nourishes my body, I offer myself to You.  I want it to nourish me to do Your will and Your purpose and the things that would honor Your holy name."  And each little piece was a symbol of the dedication of the whole.  And that's what he's saying.  If the first fruit is set apart, and "holy" here means set apart, consecrated, devoted to God, separated, if you will, the idea of consecrated from profane use to the use of God, he says if the first fruits is set apart then the whole lump is consecrated.  See that?  If the first fruits is set apart, it is saying, the whole lump is consecrated.  That is the sense.

Now the second analogy in verse 16 is this.  If the root is set apart, so are what? The branches.  It's the same idea.  If one part of a thing is consecrated to the Lord, so are the branches.  If you go out in your field and you say, "I'm planting this tree and I'm putting this little seedling in, as its roots go down I dedicate it to the Lord," then all that comes out of that is going to be dedicated to Him as well.  "I put it there for Your glory, for Your honor, I want everything that comes from it to nourish me that I may serve You more fully."  And so in the dedication of the root, there is the implication that the branches belong to God as well.  So when any small part is devoted to the Lord, it is emblematic that the whole is devoted to the Lord. That's essentially a principle that was very much a part of Jewish thinking.

For example, when they came and gave the first fruits of their grain to the Lord, they were saying, in effect, "This is but a representative token of the fact that I dedicate all my grain to You."  When they gave the Lord the first fruits, as it were, of their week and they came in on the Sabbath day and they say, "We want to give our...this day to You, we want to acknowledge that time belongs to You and worship belongs to You," it was like consecrating all of their time.  When they gave an offering of money to the Lord it was like saying, "This is but emblematic that all of that which I possess would be for Your glory," see.  And I trust that you think that way when you give as well.

Now what is Paul intending by these analogies?  Just this, and it's just a beautiful thought.  If one portion of the Jewish people are consecrated to the Lord, then all the rest must be also.  You got it?  And who were the first fruits?  Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, the fathers, the patriarchs.  And I believe he has, of course, here mainly in mind Abraham.  And if God set apart the first fruits, then He was setting apart the whole lump.  And if God set apart the root, who was Abraham, then He's setting apart the branches.  In other words, this is Paul's way of saying, "You Jews know very well that a part of a thing consecrated intends to say that the whole is consecrated.  And if God sets apart the root and God sets apart the first fruit in the case of Abraham and the fathers, it is to say that He has consecrated to Himself the whole."  It's a beautiful thought.

I'm not sure that thought is given any other place in Scripture but right there in relation to the nation Israel.  And so we can say then that there is a sense of solidarity.  And what Paul is saying is that the basis for believing that Israel will return to the place of consecrated service, that Israel will return to a place of salvation, that Israel will come back to a place of blessing is the fact that God consecrated the patriarchs to Himself, and He said, "I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob," didn't He?  And due to that consecration He has in them consecrated the whole.  Even an amillennialist like John Murray cannot resist the power of this point.  And in his commentary he says, "There cannot be irremediable rejection of Israel.  The holiness of the theocratic consecration is not abolished and will one day be vindicated in Israel's fullness and restoration." End quote.  He sounds like a pre-millennialist.  He's got to have a place for Israel because if God has set apart the patriarchs as the first fruit of the root, then He has also set apart the lump and the branches.  The final restoration then, listen, of Israel is guaranteed by the consecrating love of God for Abraham.  It is implied in God's love of Abraham and His setting Abraham apart as a covenant progenitor.

In Isaiah 51, listen to this, "Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord, look unto the rock from which you are hewn and to the hole of the pit from which you are digged (Listen.) look unto Abraham your father and unto Sarah who bore you for I called him alone and blessed him and increased him."  And what he is saying is, look back to the rock that established relationship between God and Abraham.  That is the basis, says Paul, of the future restoration of the people of Israel.  They were consecrated in the consecration of Abraham.

And if there's to be no future for the nation Israel, then what Paul is saying here is just not true.  But it is true and there is a place for Israel.

Now Paul continues with that figure of a tree in verse 17.  Follow this.  "And if some of the branches were broken off and you were grafted in among them and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree."  Now he introduces into his little analogy about the root and the branches a grafting process.  I'll briefly explain it to you.  It was customary in Palestine to give new life to an old olive tree when it ceased to bear fruit.  And I want you to know that olive trees in Palestine get very old.  I have seen on several occasions in the Garden of Gethsemane or on the Mount of Olives olive trees still there, still bearing fruit to one degree or another that were there when Jesus was alive.  They go a long, long time.  When you cut an olive tree to make a little olive wood statue, if you do it right you allow 40 years of that wood to sit before you use it, until all the fluids and oils that are in it finally are drained out so that it is dry and proper and won't crack in the future.  Those trees live a long time.  But sometimes when they got very old they were not as productive.

And so what would happen would be this.  They would cut off the unproductive old branches and in the process of grafting, even as people do today, graft in a scion, s-c-i-o-n, or a shoot from a wild olive tree that would be very productive.  And the strength of those old roots and mingled with the strength of that new life at the branch would create a new kind of productivity.  And the analogy is lucid.  The trunk, if you were, is the trunk of blessing, the trunk of special relationship to the living God.  And the branches are Israel.  You might compare Jeremiah 11 verses 16 and 17 or Hosea 14:6, and Israel was the original set of branches on the trunk of blessing, the trunk of covenant blessing.  But Israel in unbelief became unproductive and so God came along and cut the branches off, right?  And grafted in... And who is the wild olive grafted in?  Gentiles, very clearly, Gentiles.

He says in verse 17, "Some of the branches were broken off." Not all of them, why?  Because there's always been a what? A remnant.  And not all of the branches were at any time broken off.  Some of them remained.  They were the remnant who produced fruit.  But some had to be broken off.  And by the way, in grafting that was always true because the branch that was unproductive would still tend to sap some of the strength and it would crowd the tree so that air and sunlight couldn't penetrate the grafted branch, which needed all the air and sunlight it could get.  And so they would cut off the unproductive branches and then graft in the wild olive and that's how we have been grafted in and become, look at verse 11, "Partakers of the root and fatness of the olive tree."

We have come to be a people of blessing.  We are the spiritual children of Abraham, are we not?  We have entered into the blessing of Abraham because we've become spiritual children of Abraham.  And covenant blessing that flowed through Abraham has flowed to us, as it were, because of the grafting on.

In the parable of Matthew 22, the Lord says, "Since the people who were supposed to come to the wedding won't come, you go out and get anybody who will come."  And in chapter 21 He says, "The people who should have accepted My prophets and My Son slew them so I'm going to take the kingdom from them and give it to another people who are worthy of it."  And that's the grafting in of the church, the grafting in of the Gentiles.

Notice verse 18, and here comes the command, based on this.  "Boast not against the branches.  Don't be proud and boastful as if you are better than the branches that were cut out.  If you boast, you bear not the root but the root you."  What is he saying?  He's saying how could you boast against the branches that were cut off?  How ridiculous.  You don't carry the root, the root carries you.  You're not the source of your own blessedness.  You can't say, "Well the Jews were sent out and they were cut out and we were brought in because we're so blessed in and of ourselves."  Not so.  You are blessed, let me tell you something, you are blessed by being connected to an Abrahamic root.  You are blessed by becoming people of an Abrahamic covenant through spiritual heritage.  If we Gentiles have any blessing from God it is because we are blessed, as it were, through faithful Abraham.  We are blessed, to put it in the terms of Genesis 9, in the tents of Shem.  We are blessed because we have been grafted into the stock of Semitic blessing.  Salvation, said our Lord in John 4:22, is of the Jews.  We draw all our fatness, we partake all the blessing because we are grafted into the covenant of salvation that God made with Abraham.

So there's no reason to boast as if we are the root.  We aren't.  We have just been grafted onto a root of blessedness by the grace of God.  In Galatians 3 verse 6, "Even as Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness, know ye therefore that they who are of faith, the same are the sons of Abraham.  And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles through faith, preached before the gospel to Abraham saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they who are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham."  God said to Abraham, "Through you is going to come blessing."  Why?  Because through his loins came the Messiah, right?  Through the people from the loins of Abraham came the Scriptures.  And so it's only as we're attached to the trunk, as it were, of Abraham that we experience blessedness.

In that same chapter, Galatians 3 verse 13 says, "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law being made accursed for us for it's written, cursed is everyone that hangs on a tree.  And He did this in order that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ."  It's the blessing of Abraham.  God said to Abraham, "I'm going to redeem all the nations through you.  I'm going to bring salvation through you."  And only as we enter the tent of Abraham, as it were, only as we hook up with those who came out of the loins of Abraham, who wrote the Scripture, and in fact the Messiah Himself, are we blessed.  So how ridiculous would it be to boast against the branches that were cut off as if we are the source of our own blessing.  We owe our blessedness to the covenant God made with Abraham.

Well verse 19 says, "And thou wilt say then." Somebody else might say, "Okay, I'm not going to boast that I'm the root but the branches were broken off that I might be grafted in."  If I can't boast that I'm the root, at least I can say I'm a better branch than the one that was there.  It's almost as if Paul recognizes there will be a fight to maintain an anti-Semitic attitude, an anti-Jew feeling.  Somebody's going to say, "Well, yes, but after all I'm sure better than apostate Jews.  I'll boast over the branches if I can't say that I'm the source of my own blessedness.  Surely I'm superior to them."  And there is that attitude, that the Jews are to be looked down upon.  You know, there were years in the past when even Jews became Christians, Gentile congregations were very reluctant to allow them to become a part.  And that is true in some cases even today.  Hard to believe, it's certainly not true at Grace Church.

I was telling a group of people today, we had about, I think, six or eight of the American Board of Mission to the Jews, people from all over America who have come here who are going to do street preaching during the Olympics.  And they were here getting warmed up kind of this morning.  And I was telling him, I think we got a great portion of the remnant right here in Grace Church, for which we praise God.  But there are many places where that's not accepted, and where the Jews are looked upon as if they are second-class people because of their rejection of Christ and the apostasy and so forth.  We forget that there's always been a remnant of truth.  And that the branches haven't been broken off in all cases.  But even the ones that have been broken off, we can't boast against them.

Verse 20 says, it isn't that we're any better, it isn't that they're any worse, it's because of what? Of unbelief that they were broken off and you're in simply because of faith.  The issue isn't who is better and who is worse, the issue isn't are Gentiles superior to Jews, the issue isn't racial, the issue isn't ethnic, the issue isn't the superiority intellectually or any other thing, except the issue is what? Faith.  They didn't believe, you believe, that's all. That's all.  Because of unbelief.  Faith is the only issue. It's the only issue.  He said that back in chapter 9, didn't he, in verse 32?  Why? Why did they not attain righteousness?  Because they sought it not by faith but by works.  And he has been making clear ever since the beginning of the epistle to Romans that salvation is by what? By faith.  And that alone is the issue.

So, verse 20 says, "Be not high-minded."  That is, don't get yourself way up here looking down on other people.  Don't think high about yourself.  Don't have lofty thoughts about your superiority.  The only difference between you and an apostate Jew is he didn't believe and you did believe.  That's the only difference.  You're no more or less worthy in and of yourself of salvation. It's just that they didn't believe and you did.  And that by the grace of God, right?

So, first of all, we don't boast then in the terms of verse 18 as if we are the source of our own blessedness.  Secondly, verse 19, we certainly don't boast because we're better than the branches that got cut off. We're not.  The only issue in verse 20 is believing and not believing.  So don't be proud but what? Be afraid, be fearful.

You say, "Well what does he mean by that?"  Well a healthy sense of fear is a lot better than pride.  Pride always comes before a fall.  And in 1 Corinthians 10:12 it says, "Let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."  So you ought to fear.  Fear what?  Verse 21: "If God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not you."  You get the picture?  I mean, if the people who were the people of the covenant, who came out of the loins of Abraham, who were natural to the trunk of blessing, if God didn't spare that highly privileged and beloved people, beloved above all other nations, if God didn't spare them in their unbelief, believe this, folks, He won't spare Gentiles in their unbelief either.  So instead of being boastful and proud that we’ve been grafted in as over against apostate Jews who have been cut off, we ought to be afraid because Israel's unique privileges provided no protection for them against their unbelief, then certainly our lack of such privilege will provide no protection for us either.  You see, we are a no people. We are strangers to the covenants of God, that's right, as Gentiles.  We are aliens from the commonwealth of Israel.  We have no hope, are without God in the world, we're far off. That's Ephesians 2:11 to 13.  We are the no people.  And we have become a people by grace, but if God acted the way He did against His own natural branches, then believe me, if we as a church, and he's speaking in broad terms now, enter into unbelief, He'll cut the church off just as fast as He cut Israel off, just as fast.

You say, "Will that happen?"  Let me tell you something.  It will happen.  And I want you to know that because of liberalism, because of a rejection of the truth of Scripture, because of the attacks on the deity of Jesus Christ which go on in seminaries and institutions across our country and all these liberal Protestant churches and groups that come spawning out of those kinds of places that deny the deity of Christ and all of these kinds of things, we have now a church that in great measure is unbelieving. And yes, in that church there is a remnant.  There are true Gentiles.  But I believe the day is fast coming when the Lord is going to cut off the Gentiles just like He cut off the natural branches.  And to support that, all you need to do is remind yourself of Revelation chapter 2, verse 15, 16.  Jesus writes to the church at Pergamos, "You have those that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans which thing I hate, (a despised and untrue doctrine), repent or else I will come unto thee quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth."

I'll come against that church and I'll lop those branches off, He says.  I'll cut you off from the place of blessing.  I'll cut you off from the place of usefulness.  You have it in chapter 3 verse 16, "Because you are lukewarm and you're neither hot or cold, I will spew you out of My mouth."  And you know what's going to happen?  The Lord is going to destroy that false, unbelieving church and the destruction of it is given in the seventeenth chapter of Revelation, in detail.  There that church is called the mystery Babylon, the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth.  And that abominable harlot, prostitute, unbelieving church is going to be absolutely destroyed.  In fact, it is destroyed by the beast, destroyed by the beast in verse 16 of Revelation 17.

So, you ask me, is the quote-unquote church that is now become the people that are the witness people in the world, the church now the recipient of the blessing of God, is the church safe?  No.  If Israel was cut off for unbelief, believe me, we will be cut off for unbelief.  And I say we collectively, referring to the church.  And there will be left there the remnant of believing Gentiles, just as there is left there the remnant of believing Jews.  The church has no invulnerability.  He will damn the church.  He will damn the unbelieving, the apostate church just as He damned an apostate Israel.

And so, verse 22 says, "Behold, therefore, the goodness and severity of God on them who fell irretrievably,” (fell pipt, never to get up again, and those who fell never to rise, those apostate unbelievers, severity.  Strong word.  It means to cut right off, to cut short.  It's a very severe act as if something is going along and all of a sudden, boom, it's cut off instantly. The word is apotomia, to cut off shortly.  "On thee goodness."  The word really means kindness.  It's used in Romans 2:4, the kindness of God, "If you continue in His goodness," otherwise you also will be what? Cut off.

You see, to be in the place of blessing we must believe.  And when Israel ceased believing, they were cut off and only the remnant remained.  It doesn't mean they lost their salvation.  The trunk of blessing is just that. And the nation as a whole was blessed.  And God blessed that nation.  Some of the people who were even unbelieving in that nation were blessed because He blessed the whole nation.  There are people who are in the church of Jesus Christ today, who are blessed by just being a part of this association, even though they don't believe.  But the time is going to come when that apostate church will be cut off and there will be no more blessedness.  And the only thing that's going to be left is going to be the remnant of true believers.  Christianity is going to go just like Judaism did.  Believe me it is. That's the promise of Scripture.  We have the same sins in the church, self-centeredness, pride, idolatry, adultery, unbelief, all of it.  And much of the visible church today is apostate and headed for judgment.

So there's no place for boasting, people, as if we're better than Israel.  The same fate awaits the apostate church that awaited apostate Israel.  Gentiles are going to get the same thing Jews got.  And the only people who maintain their place in the trunk of blessing are the faithful Jew and Gentile, the physical and the spiritual seed of Abraham.

So the blindness of Israel is only temporary and it has a definite purpose and a definite premonition or warning.  Now finally, and just briefly because we'll cover this more the next time, it has a definite promise.  And I can't leave without this promise, oh what a marvelous promise.  Verse 23, "And they also (that is, Israel) if they abide not still in unbelief." That's always the issue.  If they will believe, they will be what? Grafted in.  You see it?  If they believe, they'll be grafted in.  "For God is (Here it is.) able to graft them in again."  May I say to you that it is possible. That's what that verse is saying.  If they will abide not in unbelief, if they will come to faith.  You say, "Will they?" Zechariah says they will.  "They'll look on Him whom they've pierced and mourn for Him as an only son and a fountain of salvation will be open to Israel."  The day is coming, I believe it's in the tribulation time, when they will believe.  And in the tribulation is when the apostate church will be cut off and Israel will be grafted back in and they will again become the people of blessing.

The destiny of Israel can be reversed.  Verse 23 says, it is possible, God is able to do it.  Verse 24 says, it’s probable, for if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature and grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree, how much more shall these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree.  It's not only possible, it's probable.  If we wild olive branches got grafted in, how much more is it probable that the original branches should be grafted in?  So it's not only possible, it's probable.

Not only that, it's promised.  Verse 25, "I would not, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own conceit, that blindness in part is happened to Israel (until, not forever, oh no, but) until the fullness of the Gentiles come in."  Now that says it's promised.  It's going to come when the fullness of the Gentiles has arrived, then comes the grafting in of Israel. And what is the fullness of the Gentiles?  That's the church.  When God has all His redeemed in the church collected together, He'll gather them to Himself in the rapture, I believe, destroy the apostate church on earth and graft back Israel in the tribulation and then comes the millennial kingdom and the world blessing.

So, it's possible, it's probable, it's promised. Are you ready for this?  It's positive.  Verse 26, "So all Israel shall be (What?) saved."  Isn't that great?  It's positive.

What is the issue here?  The issue is one simple thing.  Faith, isn't it?  Jew or Gentile, if you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you're grafted into the place of blessing, where the life of God flows through and produces fruit.  Wasn't it wonderful to hear those testimonies tonight?  Those Jew and Gentile, along with all the others of all the ages who have come to faith in God, who have embraced the Savior, are grafted in, be they natural branches or unnatural, they're in the place of blessing.  The issue for you is faith.  Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ?  You were exhorted to by these folks tonight, I hope you do.  Let's bow in prayer.

Father, we... We even said more than we intended tonight but oh how wonderful it is.  Your Word, we love it, thank You for it.  Thank You for the great confidence in our hearts that faith is the issue.  O we know You're a sovereign God and we know that You make choices out of that sovereignty, but, Lord, You repeat so often that faith is the issue and "Him that comes unto Me," said Jesus, "I will in no wise cast out."  And so anyone coming with faith to embrace Christ will be received.  We thank You for that.  We pray there might be hearts even now opened in faith to Christ. Now, Father, do send us from this place with happy hearts, fulfilled because we have been participants of the kingdom, we have been branches of blessing, to bear much fruit for the glory of the Father.  May we be all that You want us to be.  Fill our hearts with love for You and for those that need to know You, and we'll thank You for what You'll do in each life, for Christ's sake.  Amen.

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